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Drones Spotted Near JFK Airport, Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge Raise Worry

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Pilots have spotted drones multiple times near airports and bridges over the past week, and the sightings have raised concern over potential danger.

As CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported, the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration were investigating, after three pilots reported spotting drones flying near commercial aircraft on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport this week.

In addition to the drones reported near JFK, the FAA says two more drones were spotted by a helicopter pilot near the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge Thursday afternoon at around 3 p.m. The drone was seem somewhere west of LaGuardia Airport.

In the most recent incident near JFK, the pilot of a JetBlue flight from Savannah, Georgia, reported seeing a drone about two miles from the runway around 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, the FAA said.

FAA Continues Investigating Reports Of Drones Near JFK Airport

Pilots of two flights reported seeing unmanned aircraft when they were making their final approaches around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The pilots of a Delta flight from San Diego and a Virgin Atlantic flight from London both reported seeing the drones about 10 miles from Runway 22 left at the airport, the FAA said.

"We just had something fly over us, I don't know if it was a drone or a balloon, it just came real quick," the pilot of the Virgin Atlantic flight can be heard telling air traffic control in a recording.

The pilots said the drones were flying at altitudes of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet, the FAA said. Drones are not supposed to fly over 400 feet, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

FAA Continues Investigating Reports Of Drones Near JFK Airport

The FAA said the reports did not indicate that the pilots had to avoid the drones and all landed safely.

Nassau County police investigated by air, but found no evidence of drones.

While many are concerned about drones possibly disrupting a plane in flight, other travelers say they're not too concerned, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

FAA: Drones Spotted Near JFK Airport, Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge

"It's dangerous," said Rudolph Nathaniel, who lives near the airport. "Anything can happen. When birds get into the propellers, into the jet engines, it almost can practically bring it down so having a drone is even worse."

"People seem to be using them wherever they want and nobody's accountable," said LaGuardia Airport customer Leslie Wilkinson.

"I'm not worried about drones," said air traveler David Wallace.

Alex Bianchi, a passenger headed to Texas from Kennedy Airport, told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck Thursday morning that he believes arresting whoever is flying the drones would be too harsh.

"Arrest is a little extreme," Bianchi said. "To arrest somebody to me means there's a little bit of intent behind what he's doing and I don't think he's purposely flying a drone to hit a plane. I think he's just being a little negligent. It's not the smartest thing anybody's ever done, it certainly isn't the dumbest."

But aviation attorney and pilot Daniel O. Rose said the drones can be dangerous.

"They're the fun toy to have now, but they have real, serious and dire consequences if misused," he said.

Rose, a former U.S. Navy pilot, said the skies themselves become more dangerous as drones become more popular.

"We've seen what birds can do to a commercial airliner," Rose said. "You can imagine what a metal object that weighs at least as much as a bird can do to an engine."

Rose said pilots cannot predict what directions drones fly, so it may be impossible to avoid hitting one.

This is not the first time a possible drone sighting has been reported near JFK.

In March 2013, an Alitalia pilot reported seeing a drone or model plane while also coming in for a landing at Kennedy Airport.

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said drones should be subject to existing FAA rules. Rose said such a rule is a good start to protect planes.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been warning since the summer that drone traffic has made New York City "the Wild West of drones" and called on federal officials to speed up regulations.

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